Tag Archives: bikes

Bikes + beer = FUN

The third annual Nashville Tour de Fat was on Saturday, and it was a blast. It was also a hot and humid 90+—the second day of summer and it totally felt like it. Major kudos to those who wore costumes. The best I could do was deck out the Bat.

After the parade, the bike valet set up by Walk/Bike Nashville was just a little bit popular…

After helping park some bikes, I was off to gulp down a squash fritter from Riff’s, and settle down with a beer and some friends to watch the craziness in the bike corral.

bikecorrall

While walking around the festival, I overheard a few different people talk about how they wanted to get a bike and start riding around—one of the many reasons that the Tour de Fat is more than just a fun ride/day in the park.

Another reason: More than $30,000 was raised for local nonprofits. Is the Tour de Fat coming to your town?

{ Read about Dottie’s and my previous experiences at the Tour de Fat here, here & here. }

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Biking vicariously

For once, I’m glad that I know most of you only virtually: For the last month and a half, I’ve been sick to various degrees. I’ll spare you the detailed explanation of what’s been wrong with me at what points, but suffice to say that other than a few short neighborhood rides and a handful of commutes, I’ve not been on the bike much this year. Like Dottie, I’m not interested in biking when it doesn’t feel right and am happy to cede the hardcore title to others when necessary (I have biked four whole winters at this point, after all.). And chest colds and biking in the cold air don’t mix! Good news is, I’m finally feeling better and had my first commute in a while yesterday.

While I was off the bike, I’ve been biking vicariously via some interesting reading material. Bikes and Riders, by Jim Wagenvoord, was one of my flea market finds last month. The book was originally published in 1972, and much of it reads completely of the time—would that today’s cycling advocates adopt the fashion sense of Harriet Green, who wore “a brushed suède riding cloak over dark-blue hot pants” (sadly, not pictured) to a demonstration in New York City.

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On the other hand, some of it has the feeling of “the more things change . . .” Like this passage on media coverage of bike rallies.

From the press’s standpoint it wasn’t so much the bike-lane demands that had drawn them but the fact that bikes—just about anything about bikes—had with relative suddenness become a story.

Isn’t this more or less where we are now? The press coverage is all well and good, but will bicycling still be something of a novelty story in 40 years?

flapcopy

Speaking of things that date the book, Futura is pretty popular these days–but its use in longform text definitely screams ’70s.

The back cover copy on this book cracks me up—once again, 40 years on, the same concerns about people being stuck in front of the TV.

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But on to the content! Bikes and Riders focuses mostly on urban cyclists, which was obviously of interest to me, but it also includes a pretty comprehensive history of the bicycle’s development and use throughout history. Did you know bikes were used in combat?

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Photographs of early cyclists are always of interest, and there are plenty here. Here’s a little reminder that riding in a suit has been the rule rather than the exception in the history of cycling!

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I was tickled to discover this twin of Le Peug in the book’s pages. And the rider is a woman to boot! I might have to recreate that shot.

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I want to do a little research on Jim Wagenvoord. If the flap copy is to be believed, he’s some sort of Renaissance man, so surely he has more of a legacy than this book, The Violent World of Touch Football, How to Surf and Flying Kites. After all, “[t]here have been witty writers, good researchers, and fine photographers before, but never within one 6’2″ frame.”

Have you read any good books on biking lately?

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Pedal Pushers

Before I started cycling, I never thought about the name “pedal pusher” for pants in a literal way. But now it comes to me – duh, this style is named pedal pushers because they are made for pushing pedals!  The cuffs are short enough that there is no risk the getting caught in the chain or crank while bicycling.

Since I started bicycling daily, I almost entirely stopped wearing pants in favor of skirts and dresses to avoid having to secure pants cuffs, but lately I’ve been wanting to wear outfits built around pants.  Pedal pushers are a good solution.

This is the only pair of pedal pushers I have, tending to avoid them as not the most flattering length, but I think I’ll keep my eyes out for more.  They are just too convenient and fun for bicycling.  I really don’t know why I never thought of them much before.  :-)

What do you think – are you a fan of pedal pushers?

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Surly Stories

My friend Megan, intrepid world-traveler, recently bought a Surly Cross-Check.  She already had a Gary Fisher Simple City for in-town riding, but wanted the Surly for longer, faster rides and for a bike tour around Iceland next summer!

I ran into her by chance today on my way home from work and she had been riding around the city for hours, enjoying the swiftness of her new bike.

The Surly seems like a popular bike for people looking for the right combination of quality and (relative) affordability.  I know of many who use Surleys both for commuting and for touring.

Do you have a Surly story?  If so, share it in the comments!  I’m sure Megan and many others would be interested to hear them.

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A Day at the Nature Museum

Last week, Trisha visited Chicago for her birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!).  We were together again!

We biked down the lakefront and stopped by the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Coco and Oma got to be together, too, outside of the garage for once.

While there, we enjoyed a high-quality exhibit, called Bikes! The Green Revolution, that happens to be at the Nature Museum until September 9.

There was a display of cool vintage bikes.

Art work with the theme “bike monsters.”

Photo ops with a penny-farthing, which we were all over once the children got out of our way.

And a photo exhibit of modern cycling style, featuring portraits by Bike Fancy’s Martha Williams.  (Look, there’s me!)

Next, we stopped by the butterfly house, but the many fluttering things disconcerted Trisha a bit too much.

So we rested a bit.  :)

We finished our visit in the gardens, a lovely respite from the city.

Where we listened to highly entertaining bird calls in the bird sanctuary.

 Finally, we got back on our bikes to continue our day downtown.
Another lovely day on bikes in Chicago. Plus Trisha, which makes the day 100x better!  :)
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February Nashville Bike Brunch–one flake, and some snow

I didn’t make it to this Sunday’s bike brunch, but our little tradition carried on just the same, despite the large wet flakes of falling snow (first of the year here in Nashville) with a stalwart six meeting up at Whiskey Kitchen.

Kim gets street cred for biking through our little blizzard on her Raleigh.

Kim, Lauren and Whitney

Abby & Chad

Chad & Sarah

 

Our next bike brunch will be Sunday, March 11, at Margot Café in East Nashville at 1 p.m. This is a later brunch than usual — hopefully the weather will be warmer in the afternoon! Please RSVP to lgrab [at] letsgorideabike [dot] com so I can make a reservation.

 

 

 

 

 

VFC43VJVBSYF

 

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The Start of Fall Bicycling!

Today is the first day of fall – my favorite season for bicycling.

Fall cycling is lovely and requires little-to-no preparation. Jumping on your bike in slacks or tights and a sweater will work most days. Nevertheless, I notice a steep decline in bicyclists once the dreadfully hot days of summer are over, so obviously some people need convincing to continue riding their bikes. In light of this, we put together a How To Dress for Fall Cycling guide a couple of years ago and a quick Refresher Course last year.

Incidentally, last night I attended the Bike Winter kick-off meeting. I really don’t want to start thinking about winter yet, but I enjoyed hearing tips and questions from the large group of attendees, both seasoned winter bicyclists and people who plan to try it for the first time. If you’re already thinking this far ahead, check out Bike Winter for lots of great info, as well as the LGRAB Guide to Winter Bicycling and my video on how I dress for winter biking.

Whether you plan to stick it out for the long haul or simply make the best of fall weather before storing your bike for the winter (both reasonable options), I wish you a happy and healthy fall bicycling season.

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Riding Chicago’s Four Star Bike Tour

Last Sunday I rode the Four Star Bike Tour, a massive group ride organized by and benefitting the Active Transportation Alliance. I chose the 35-mile route through the west and south sides of Chicago and my total mileage for the day was a little over 50.

Betty Foy at Promontory Point

I enjoyed the ride a lot. The crowd was too packed together at the beginning and after rest stops, but most of the time I was alone or with a small group. Sunday morning traffic was light and we had the roads mostly to ourselves. The route was pretty easy to follow and I saw many parts of the city for the first time.

The view from Promontory Point

I wore my one sporty bicycling outfit – a wool jersey and padded shorts from Ibex. Although I hate the diaper feeling off the bike, the outfit was super comfortable for the ride and I was happy to have the padding.

A sporty thumbs up

My outfit

I enjoyed bicycling for the sake of bicycling, not as transportation, but I kept wanting to stop places, especially in Hyde Park, like my favorite bookstore or the place with the best croissants. I was determined to stick to the task at hand and ride a straight 35 miles, so I resisted temptation.

Except for a quick detour to Promontory Point for some photos.

Enjoying a quick break

Betty did a great job

I’ve never biked more than 60 miles at a time and rarely more than 10. I was happy to find that my regular daily riding was enough “training” for this longer ride. I even pushed myself to go quite fast, relative to my usual speed, the last several miles because I still felt so good. My legs were tired by the end, but in a healthy way, and my muscles were not sore the next day.

Participating in the Four Star has inspired me to spend some of my Sundays waking up early and going for long bike rides. I mean, not this Sunday, but maybe next? Definitely next year at the 2012 Four Star. :)

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Cheers to the cyclist’s happy hour!

Dottie and I had a great time at our first NYC cyclist’s happy hour. Co-hosted with Adeline Adeline, the evening was filled with interesting people, beautiful bicycles and just a wee bit of vino. :)

Wine uncorking!

Gracious Adeline owner, Julie

Steve and Jeanette chat in the bustling shop

The summer heat had just broken, and it was a beautiful evening for test-riding bikes.

Malaika takes a Linus test-ride

Julie and her pink Linus, Kate Middleton, stars of The Julie Blog.

 

Hilarious and huggable Amanda from Amanda's Project.

 

Gazelle test-riding

 

Abici test-riding

 

Chatting

 

Chatting with Kristin, aka neighbortease. :)

 

still more chatting: Steve, Dottie and Julie

Women! Bikes! (This one's Carol and her nifty commuter)

 

Riding away

Meeting longtime commentators and fellow bike lovers and bloggers was such a blast (here’s Julie’s take on the evening, Amanda’s take, and one from The Bike Writer). Next time, ladies and gentlemen, we’re coming back to ride. Thanks to Adeline Adeline for hosting the fun.

 

{B&W shot and developed by Dottie; color snaps courtesy of Trisha’s iPhone}

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This means I’m turning!

Before I get to the main point of this post, let me mention that I was thwarted from riding my bike today.  Last night a severe storm knocked out power for about 18 hours.  No electricity meant my garage door opener would not work and my bike was trapped inside (a detached garage).  That’s something I never considered before.  I guess there’s some sort of mechanical opener on the inside, but figuring all that out early in the morning was beyond me.  So I took the L train instead.  Boo.

And now for something completely different.

Bike Snob recently mentioned (which means made fun of)  a Kickstarter project for creating a turning signal bike glove.  While the idea of a bike turning signal is…interesting, I prefer to use old fashioned hand signals that no one understands.  When I feel like increasing visibility, lately I’ve been using this slap bracelet that came in my bike-to-work week goodie bag.

That’s right – slap bracelet.  Remember those?

Makes me think of Smurfs and Fruity Pebbles.

When I’m not wearing the slap bracelet, I keep it slapped on the handle of my pannier.  I’m not really big on neon, but this thing is so easy and increases my false sense of security, so I haven’t found a reason not to carry it.

Do you do anything to make your turning intentions more visible?

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Enjoying Bike Summer at the Seersucker Ride

Lately it seems I’m posting more about group rides and events than about my daily biking.  While I continue to ride my bike to work and everywhere else, the high points of my biking life have been special events like Critical Lass, the Women-Who-Bike Brunch, my Cupcake Ride and the Tour de Fat.   There is simply no better way to enjoy Chicago in the summer than outside, under the sun, on my bicycle, chatting with nice people.

Now I’m adding  the Seersucker Ride to that list, which I joined last Sunday.  The ride was co-organized by the BBC (British Bicycles of Chicago), the Slow Bicycle Society and Velo-Francais.  Sort of like a Tweed Ride for the summer heat.

There was an excellent turn out of excellently turned-out folks.  :) We met at a neighborhood watering hole for starter refreshments.  I chose a summer shandy to deal with the heat wave weather.  (I refuse to listen to anyone who points out that alcohol dehydrates!)

Then we headed to beautiful Humboldt Park for a picnic.  By far the classiest picnic I’ve ever seen, with table cloths, mini strawberry shortcakes, and fresh mixed mint juleps!



Fun bicycle events provide such a friendly and relaxed environment.  I enjoyed chatting with old friends and meeting new people.

Everyone was dressed so nicely, very casual chic.




After the picnic, we meandered slowly to another watering hole, where I chose to remain for a couple of hours before heading home.  :)

Oh, yeah, and there was this: 

Take that fixies and BMX bikes!  He was actually only one of five penny-farthing riders there and three of them were women.  (I can’t believe I forgot to get a picture!)

Ash gave the Pennyfarthing a try, but I am too much of a chicken for something like that.

Many thanks to the organizers of the Seersucker Ride.  Everyone had a great time!

Who else is enjoying a bike summer?

 

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A Delicious Cupcake Ride!

Ride to eat cupcakes, eat cupcakes to ride.

On Saturday, that’s exactly what a celebratory group of 18 bicyclists did, navigating 8 miles to visit 3 bakeries and consume countless cupcakes.  All in the best summer finery, of course.

After setting off from Wicker Park, we stopped first at Alliance Bakery, my personal favorite of the day.  Such delicious and beautiful confections!

The group got a little sidetracked by a very pink sidewalk sale at a boutique next door…

But we soon got back to serious cupcake business.

Next we biked through Wicker Park and Bucktown and across the river to Roscoe Village for our second stop, Bleeding Heart.

There we visited with a bicyclist who would have joined us for the ride, if she had not had to work at the bakery that day.  Hi!  :)

We took a break at a park across the street, as we began to realize that eating more than one cupcake in a row can be quite a challenge.

Then after riding through Roscoe Village, Lakeview and Lincoln Park, we arrived at our final bakery, Sweet Mandy B’s.  A final round of cupcakes was ordered, because we’re hardcore like that.

Finally, we parked ourselves at the beautiful rose garden in nearby Oz Park for a picnic of … cupcakes!  And champagne!  A lovely combination.

Merci Beaucoup to my partner in crime, Sara.  I literally could not have done it on my own, without her enthusiasm and route-mapping skillz.  And mucho gracias to our adorable yet badass corker, Ash.

Thanks to everyone who came out!  You’re all awesome!

What kind of ride should we do next?  Perhaps some gelato and ice cream?  Perhaps!

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Bike to Work Week!

Last week was Bike to Work Week in Chicago. We celebrate it later than the rest of the country, waiting until June to make sure it does not snow. :)

I volunteered at an Active Transportation Alliance commuter pit stop one morning. The stop offered free coffee and Clif bars, various swag, tune-ups and general encouragement.  I mostly just stood around chatting with friends, though.

This particular pit stop was co-hosted by The Chainlink and REI.

Julie of The Chainlink worked the megaphone with great enthusiasm and cuteness.

People signed their names to a petition to support more protected bike lanes in Chicago, part of Active Trans’s new and exciting Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign.

My friend Sara happened to ride by on her way to work, looking naturally fabulous.  Hello!

And other office cycle chic peeps rolled by.

After a demanding morning of gabbing and drinking free Caribou coffee, I set off for the office myself.

I’m a fan of Bike to Work Week. Some people criticize the focus on commuting, while others proclaim it should be “bike to work week every week,” but the directed outreach seems to encourage new people to try transportation cycling. In fact, I first biked to work during the official Bike to Work Week three years ago.  It would be interesting to see statistics comparing the amount of bike commuters the week before, the week of, and the week after the event.

Was anyone else inspired by Bike to Work Week or a similar event as a newbie?  Do you have any co-workers who became interested in commuting after hearing about the event?

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Chicago’s First Protected Bike Lane + Bike Box

Yesterday, while waiting at a red light on my bike, a woman with a baby on the back of her bike rolled up and stopped next to me. I waved and cooed to the baby until he smiled. Then his mother said, “Say hi,” and he did, flapping his chubby little hand, eyes shining under his helmet. The light turned green, she told me to go ahead and I told her to have a good day.

My friend Ash's daughter, whom I photographed last week. Not the baby I saw yesterday, but equally adorable.

In an ideal world, sweet meetings like that would happen all the time. In reality, I very rarely see anyone bicycling on Chicago streets with a child. Even as more and more people, men and women, start bicycling for transportation, the venture still seems risky to most. The only way to get a substantial amount of people to bicycle in the city, especially parents with children, is to provide safe, separated infrastructure. Chicago needs protected bike lanes.

For 3 years I have been bicycling in Chicago on a daily basis. During this time, I have seen how easily and cheaply the city’s streets could be adjusted to accommodate protected bike lanes. (Easy and cheap relative to all the other construction projects going on. I know all of Portland’s bike infrastructure was created for the same cost as one highway interchange). This knowledge left me perpetually frustrated, because no one with power in Chicago seemed to care, despite the fact that bicyclists make up ~1/4 of the traffic along my commute route.

This week, Chicago’s disgraceful apathy has ended. All in the past 3 days, new Mayor Emanuel announced the first protected bike lane, CDOT started construction, and the scheduled complete date is next week. The city’s first protected bike lane will be on Kinzie Avenue where it crosses Milwaukee Avenue, leading into downtown. Currently, bicyclists make up 22% of the traffic along this stretch.

There are a few different ways bike lanes can be “protected.”  For this project, the street pattern will follow this order: sidewalk, curb, bike lane, painted buffer zone, parallel car parking, motor vehicle travel lane. While visiting the construction site, Steven Can Plan noticed that they are also building a bike box (where bicyclists can wait in front of motor vehicles at red lights) and a bike-only left turning lane at a big intersection.  Those are also firsts for Chicago.

You can watch the Mayor’s press conference below:

View more videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com.

[You have to sit through a car commercial before watching the press conference.]

Some choice quotes from Mayor Emanuel:

I want Chicago to be the bike friendliest city in the nation.

Speaking of the role bicycling plays in the city, he pointed out three factors for the future:

1) another means of transportation
2) people can do it with safety
3) as we attract businesses to Chicago, an integrated biking system to and from work is essential to the type of workers I want to see in the city of Chicago.

He noted that bicycling is:

Both an economic development essential tool and it adds to a quality of life that is essential to the city.

This particular project is only 1/2 a mile. But the Mayor announced that Chicago will build 100 MILES OF PROTECTED BIKE LANES OVER THE NEXT 4 YEARS!

Yes, you read that right: 100 miles of protected bike lanes.

Obviously, I am excited about these developments. My approval is conditioned on the city following through with its promises here, but for the first time since I started bicycling in Chicago 3 years ago, I’m seeing real and positive change.

I encourage everyone in Chicago to write the Mayor and thank him for his trailblazing support of safe bicycling infrastructure. Also, even more importantly, reach out to your Alderman to state your strong support for protected bike lanes and bike boxes. On June 21, I will attend an Active Trans Social with my Alderman Waguespack to voice my support. You can attend or organize a social in your neighborhood with the help of Active Trans.

{For much more detailed information on the Kinzie Avenue project, check out Steven Can Plan. He’s been doing an excellent job of reporting on this project and others around the city.}

{For more information about cycling with children, check out Kidical Mass.}

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A Lovely Bike Commute?

My bike commutes this week have been lovely, full of sunshine and flowers and blue skies.  That’s what I was thinking, anyway…

Then I read Sam’s “Bike to Work Week” post, which is hilarious (as always), but sadly too true.  You gotta read the post yourself, but basically it has me wondering how lovely my bike commutes really are – objectively.

I have so much experience riding in the city now, the stress mostly rolls off my back: speeding SUVs buzzing me, car doors flung open in my path, cabs idling in the bike lane.  All of that craziness is a dim hum in the background for me, but a new bike commuter would be totally freaked out – and with good reason.

But there’s a lot to be said for sticking with bicycling long enough to get over those initial freak-outs.  Because, as Sam discusses, once you move beyond all that, bicycling “will be the most blissful state of existence you will ever know.”  That’s where I’m coming from when I rhapsodize about my lovely bike commutes every day.  Totally subjective.  :)


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The Lakefront Trail in Spring

When I got on my bike Friday morning, I made a last-minute decision to take the Lakefront Trail instead of my usual street route, since I was not feeling up to car traffic and was not in a rush.

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The Lakefront Trail in spring is totally different from the Lakefront Trail I wrote about in winter.

First, getting on the trail was a challenge, as recent thunderstorms created a moat in the underpass access. The water was very deep, so I backtracked up the ramp and biked three blocks south to the next access point, among heavy car and truck traffic merging onto Lakeshore Drive. Not my ideal route, but I managed safely by acting like a car and taking the lane.

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I was annoyed by the difficulty, since the whole point of riding the trail was to take it easy due to my illness. When Coco and I made it to the lakefront, though, my annoyance dissolved. The cool air was refreshing off Lake Michigan, a huge improvement from the hot-sun-on-blacktop feeling of the streets. Lots of people were out enjoying the beautiful Chicago morning.

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A couple of miles along, I encountered heavy trucks working on the trail. This was a pleasant surprise because they had paved over all the chunks of missing concrete and horrible craters that formed during the winter. Smooth sailing!

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I enjoyed my easy ride so much, I totally forgot I was sick until I tried to sing along to my fav Kate Nash song and couldn’t make it through one line without losing my breath. So it’s official: riding Coco slowly is less taxing than singing along to my iPod.

After emerging from the trail for the final 1.5 miles on downtown streets, I popped my helmet back on, blew my nose and said “cheese!” with Coco.

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Looking back on naive, Friday morning Dottie, I almost feel bad for her. She had no idea that she’d end up working late and then biking home along congested streets in a harsh headwind and temperatures that fell 30 degrees from the 70’s to the 40’s, without the benefit of gloves or earmuffs and with a hacking cough. But at least she could go home and sleep 12 hours, dreaming of her ideal Chicago spring morning ride.

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Bicycle Favoritism

Like a parent, I really can’t choose a favorite among my three bikes Oma, Betty and Coco. But I do go through periods when I heavily favor one over the others. Right now, it’s Betty’s time in the spotlight.

For the past month and a half, I’ve been riding Betty Foy exclusively. (April 7 was our 2-year anniversary!) I missed her so much during winter, as soon as the ice cleared and I got her tuned up, she became my ride of choice day after day. She’s so fun and breezy. I haven’t ridden Oma since the weather cleared two months ago because she still has studded tires and I hadn’t ridden Coco since…let me check the archives…March 31.

That changed on Wednesday, when I pulled Coco out for the day.

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And boy, am I glad I did! She’s a lovely bike and those Fat Frank tires are so cushy. I feel different when I’m perched atop her riding straight up. Once I break in the Brooks saddle, the comfort level will be perfection.

As for Oma – getting her studded tires swapped out is on my to-do list for this weekend. So Betty may have to take a back seat again for a while.

On another note, after all my talk of allergies, I finally went to a doctor yesterday and learned that I don’t have allergies at all (good!), but a two week virus (basically a bad cold). I plan to bike today even though I feel like crap because I can’t stand a second day on the L. (There’s a double meaning with “stand” – get it?)

Happy Friday!

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Blooming Bicyclists

If anyone got tired of me talking about snow during winter, prepare to get tired of me talking about flowers now. :) Seriously, check out these magnolias! How can this not make you happy?




Other than the severe allergies I’m suffering from, my bike commutes have been lovely. Today was the first bona fide hot day of the year. Bare legs, short sleeves and I still sweated. How novel.

Another novelty was the large number of bicyclists accompanying me. Yesterday at a stop light (North & Wells) I counted 12 of us. We are taking over. Very cool.

Bicyclists are blooming like flowers in Chicago! How about where you live?

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Enjoying the Springtime Scenery

Now that flowers are finally blooming everywhere in Chicago, I’m totally enjoying the gorgeous springtime scenery during my bike commutes. Although winter scenery is beautiful in its own weird way and autumn leaves are striking, spring wins the scenery contest hands down. As long as its not raining.

Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, I have allergies in the form of a terribly scratchy throat and itchy sinuses. I never had allergies before last year. But I’m still happy to be surrounded by flowers.

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Unexpected Thunderstorms

Last weekend a friend asked me and Trisha what we do about thunderstorms, and we both agreed that we simply do not bike in them. However, that is a simplified, partially true statement. The full explanation is that I choose not to bike in the morning if, at the time of leaving, hard rain is actively falling or the forecast all but guarantees thunderstorms. I tend to ignore vague forecasts for the possibility of thunderstorms in the evening, because so many times when I started bike commuting, I was tricked into not biking when the weather was fine.

Which is how I now end up biking home in thunderstorms more than I would like.

My commute is long enough to give the weather ample time to change (30 minutes) but short enough that I feel okay pushing through bad weather. I wait out storms with thunder and lightening, but the most common scenario has me leaving work just before the sky opens up, and once I’m already on my bike, only the worst conditions could stop me. Otherwise, I push on through cautiously but assertively.

Such was the case last night.

Photo from last year. Imagine this, but dark.

Leaving a fundraiser benefit for my employer, the weather seemed fine, although the night sky was too dark to see clouds. Only after I biked half a mile did the rain suddenly start pouring. Thunder and lightening soon followed.

I was wearing an elegant black ensemble: a silk dress, blazer, tights and dress shoes.  I had a raincoat tied around my waist because my new dress became way too short on the bike (more about that later) and for visibility, not because I anticipated rain.  After the storm started, I considered pulling over to put the raincoat on, but did not want to lose momentum, so I continued all the way home as I was.  Of course, by the end of my commute, the storm had calmed to a drizzle. Arriving home, drenched and drowned-rat-esque, I immediately hung my clothes to dry and took a hot shower.  This morning, both the clothes and I are fine. My Po Campo bag, which is advertised only as water resistant, amazingly kept all of my contents safe and dry.

There is a lot of talk on bike blogs and forums about gear like rain pants, ponchos, etc.  Those accessories are important in some situations (like if I were on my way to the event), but if you’re going straight home, there is nothing terrible about getting caught in the rain in your regular clothes. I do not want newer bike commuters to worry that they are not properly prepared for bicycling until they acquire all that stuff.

I am grateful that I had my Planet Bike Superflash.  Powerful lights are always important when riding in the rain, especially at night.

Somebody tell me that I’m not the only one with bad luck when it comes to getting stuck in the rain. What do you do when unexpected thunderstorms hit?

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